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Nigel Waters attended the APEC DPS meeting in Jakarta as an invited guest. He has previously either formally represented Privacy International or been a part of the Australian delegation. He continues to bring a critical civil society perspective to bear on the APEC privacy work.

The APEC Cross Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) system has moved one step closer to full operation with the acceptance in January 2013 of Mexico as the second participating economy. The United States was accepted in July 2012, and Japan has declared its intention to apply in 2013, with other economies to follow.

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The APEC Data Privacy Subgroup (DPS) commenced a new five year work programme at a meeting in Moscow in February 2012.  This follows the commitment by APEC Leaders in late 2011 to the Cross Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) system as one way implementing the APEC Data Privacy Framework. 

The Joint Oversight Panel was formed at the DPS meeting in Moscow and comprises members from the US (chair), Chinese Taipei  and Mexico, with the chair of the DPS (from Canada) as alternate – who will be needed if and when any of the other three economies apply for participation. 

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The second 2011 meeting of the APEC Privacy Subgroup took place in San Francisco in mid September, and finalised the package of documents that comprise the Cross Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) system.  Endorsed by the parent Electronic Commerce Steering Group (ECSG), these will now go forward for ratification by Ministers in Hawaii in November, and subsequent implementation.  The Subgroup’s 2012 Work Plan envisages establishment of the Joint Oversight Panel (JoP), commencement of recognition of Accountability Agents (AAs), and facilitating participation by economies in the CBPR system.  Implicitly, it is also expected that recognised AAs will start to certify applicant businesses as meeting the CBPR programme requirements.  The work plan also includes development of the website that will list participating businesses, recognised AAs and Privacy Enforcement Authorities (PEAs), and further promotion and explanation of the system.

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2011 is supposed to be the year that the APEC pathfinder projects on Cross Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) deliver a functional system for businesses to be certified for transfer of personal information between participating APEC economies.
After the last round of APEC privacy meetings in Washington DC on 1-3 March, this prospect is looking increasingly remote. Even the basic set of documentation and processes required for the process of self-certification and assessment of businesses has yet to be fully agreed and endorsed, while discussion of the all-important governance and funding arrangements has not progressed far beyond where it had reached in mid 2010,which is not very far at all. All the hard questions about how the CBPR system will work in practice, and deliver the necessary level of confidence, have been shunted into this critical component (Project 8), with only one further round of face to face meetings left in 2011, in September in San Francisco.

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Nigel Waters's picture

Nigel Waters has previously represented Privacy International at APEC Data Privacy Subgroup meetings, on one occasion with PI having official guest status, otherwise indirectly through membership of the Australian delegation. On this occasion, expenses were paid by USAid for participation in the technical assistance seminar, and this allowed attendance at the other meetings.

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